Future Media Standards & Guidelines

Keyboard Access Standards v1.2.1 (superseded)

1. Introduction

1.1. Keyboard access to active elements of a page is important for many users who cannot use a pointing device (mouse) to navigate around the page.

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2. Tabbing

2.1. All functionality on all BBC websites and services MUST be fully controllable using the keyboard alone.

2.2. Users MUST be able to use any rich media object on the web page solely using two key tabbing. This is for the benefit of switch users.

2.2.1. If you are developing a game, contact the Usability and Accessibility team in UX&D for advice on how best to do this.

2.3. In addition, you MUST ensure that if and when a user has tabbed to an interactive (clickable) element outside of the visible area (for example, the stage in Flash — see description below) the interactive element comes into view. You can achieve this by either moving the element, or by moving the focus of the stage to bring the element into view.

  • This is to ensure that users who tab to non-visible areas do not lose their way on the site.
  • A "stage" is the visible area of a Flash movie. Refer to the Multimedia Accessibility Standards for further information about implementing Flash on BBC websites.

2.4. Your pages MUST provide a logical tab order through links, form controls and objects, to increase the pages' ease of navigation via the keyboard.

2.5. A logical tab order is one which makes sense when the layout is removed when vocalised by a screen reader – for example, elements which need to be read together (a heading and list of options, or a paragraph of text around an image) should be coded such that they are vocalised together rather than broken up by other elements.

2.5.1. For HTML pages, you MUST do this in the way you code the page design in HTML.

2.5.2. You MUST NOT use the tabindex attribute of links, as the use of tabindex will introduce inconsistency of tab ordering between BBC sites. For further information, see W3C Recommendations/Forms/Tabbing Navigation.

2.5.3. For Flash (v7 and later) content, you MUST do this via .tabindex values in the animation's ActionScript. For further information, see Macromedia/Accessibility and Macromedia Flash MX/Controlling the Reading Order in Macromedia Flash 2004.

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3. Keyboard shortcuts

3.1. You SHOULD include keyboard shortcuts to enable keyboard users to jump more quickly around the interface using the keyboard.

3.1.1. These keyboard shortcuts MUST NOT clash with keyboard shortcuts used in the BBC’s supported screenreaders — you SHOULD contact the Usability and Accessibility Team in Central UX&D for advice on this issue.

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4. Document history

17/11/2008 v1.2.1 Minor revisions: removed use of the term bbc.co.uk. Victoria Jolliffe
29/10/2008 v1.2 Added section 3 on keyboard shortcuts. Also added information on two-key tabbing for rich media objects, and tabbing outside the visible area. Victoria Jolliffe
24/9/2007 v1.1 Removed access keys for the moment. Gareth Ford-Williams
25/03/2005 v1.00 Renumbered as v1.00 on final approval from Standards Exec Jonathan Hassell
16/03/2005 v0.12 After amendments required by Tech Forum on 14/03/2005 Jonathan Hassell
09/03/2005 v0.11 After comments at Accessibility WG meeting on 18/02/2005 and from Damon Rose Jonathan Hassell
18/02/2005 v0.1 First draft after research doc, testing on /help, and discussion with AbilityNet re Webwise Accessibility Help site Jonathan Hassell

Document editor: Editor, Standards & Guidelines. If you have any comments, questions or requests relating to this document, please contact the Editor, Standards & Guidelines.

Like all other Future Media Standards & Guidelines, this page is updated on a regular basis, through the process described on About Standards & Guidelines.

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